In a review of the Nissan Qashqai a few years ago, I said that former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher did us all a favour when her Government sold Britain as a ‘gateway to Europe.’
Maggie backed her friend Norman Tebbitt in a dispute with Chancellor Nigel Lawson over tax breaks for inward investment to the UK. Mrs T kept the promise she had made to Nissan and sold the Japanese company an 80-acre Usworth airfield site near Sunderland at agricultural prices.
The Sunderland plant has been a major success story. I was lucky enough to visit the massive Nissan plant a few years back and it was fascinating to see a combination of robots and humans produce a new car every 60 seconds.
There were worries about the impact of Brexit, but now every car company seems to be worried about a worldwide shortage of semiconductors.
I read some time back that 85% of the five million parts Nissan use in the North of England every day, have to be imported from mainland Europe, but I suppose that’s the way business is right now.
Last week I got to test drive the third generation of the Qashqai and straight away I thought the car was larger and chunkier than what the previous versions felt like. It’s true, even if the increased measurements are in millimetres.
The third-generation of the car is 35mm longer, 32mm wider and 25mm taller, while its wheelbase is 20mm longer. Not huge figures, but I suppose they all add up.
The first thing I noticed was the heads up display, which is already used by the likes of Mazda and Mitsubishi. It’s a brilliant service, but it’s only available in the top of the range automatic version that I drove.
This version of the Qashqai is a Mild-Hybrid so you should get better fuel economy and I did find the engine was very frugal, even in urban driving. The car certainly has a bold stance to it and you get LED lights and 20-inch alloys.
My test car came in amber with a black roof, which looked really cool and two roof-rails added to the SUV look.
Normally when I show a press car to friends they may say “Oh I love the smell of a new car”. Well this time those people were definitely not spoofing as Nissan have been using Odour Evaluation Lead Engineer Peter Karl Eastland to achieve that coveted new car smell.
Peter has been blessed with acute sense of smell, a gift he realised he had from an early age. Then he got a Master’s degree in Chemistry with Forensic Science from Leicester University.
Prices start at €30,500 for the 1.3-litre XE version, while the CVT automatic version I drove will cost you €44,600. Road tax is €270. You also get a good old-fashioned spare wheel.
I have always liked the Qashqai and this automatic version was really class. The starting price is good value, but over 44k for the automatic version is a bit steep.
The boot is huge and the good news is that your get a proper spare wheel, instead of the dreaded repair kit. And the 360-degree reversing camera is brilliant.
Like most Irish people I wasn’t a huge fan of Mrs Thatcher, but she certainly did us all a favour by introducing Nisan and their brilliant Qashqai to these islands.